Korean War Veteran Receives Honorary Diploma

Korean War Veteran Receives Honorary Diploma
Posted on 06/12/2019
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On Thursday, June 6, 2019, at 7:00 p.m., over 80 anxious and excited students joined one 89 year-old gentleman for a special walk across the stage.

Ronald Ziolecki, a Korean War veteran, received his diploma along with the James E. Dottke High School Class of 2019.

According to Board of Education member, Dan Bailey, “Ron is a close friend of mine and this event is very important to both of us. He has a story that tells us all about courage and service.”

In 1949, he dropped out of West Allis Central High School to join the US Marine Corps. By October, 1951, he was fighting in the Korean War as part of the 3rd Battalion of Company 1.

On February 7, 1952, Ziolecki lost his best friend,
Ross Hartwig, in battle. Ross was from Iowa and he was only 19 years old.

Ziolecki returned home to West Allis in September, 1952. Over the years, he got married and raised three children. He worked for 40 years at Unit Drop Forge. He spent many years organizing Candy Cane Lane during the Christmas holidays. Last summer, he traveled to Washington, D.C., on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Recently, Ziolecki was featured in a Journal-Sentinel story about his efforts to reconnect with Ross Hartwig’s family. He was able to meet with his daughter and share his memories of Ross with her. He has never forgotten his friend.

“Mr. Ziolecki served his country. He served his community. He served his family and friends. He is a living example of what we all hope every student becomes,” explained James E. Dottke Principal, Greg Goelz. For Mr. Ziolecki, commencement was not possible years ago. We were able to change that.”

“We want thank Ron for his service to our country and our community.  We were honored and privileged to see him receive his diploma after all these years,” adds Bailey.